Biology is one of the most vital sciences on Earth. The field, which gets its name from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “logos” (study), is all about understanding and making sense of the natural world.
However, as well known as it is, many people still ask, “what is biology?” The field seems complex, but the answer is quite simple. Biology is the science of life. In the following sections we will shed light on the biology definition to better understand the science and show what makes it so valuable to our world today.
A Truly Natural Science
As with all sciences, the base of biology is knowledge. Every science focuses on understanding a certain part of our world.
Biology seeks to make sense of all of the natural organisms and mechanisms on Earth. That does not just mean classification (though that is a big part of it). Rather, biologists focus on how living organisms function, grow, and evolve. They also seek to understand the structure, origins, distribution, and evolution of all life. If something pertains to either plants or animals, it falls under the umbrella of biology.
There are many parts of biology, and each of them covers a different field. One section can look at small, single-celled organisms like bacteria, while another can branch out to much bigger biological processes that deal with plants, animals, or fungi.
The different fields of study depend on what exactly scientists look at. Sometimes they seek to understand molecular mechanisms, and sometimes they want to see how species evolve, behave, or fit into larger ecosystems.
Biology’s Nine Subcategories
One of the most important things to understand when trying to define biology is that the science rarely works on its own. Rather, it overlaps with many fields in a range of interesting ways.
For example, biochemistry is a mix of chemistry and medicine, while astrobiology mixes the study of natural organisms with astronomy. Those are just two examples, but there are many more. Those different connections are what make biology so important.
Going off that note, there are nine distinct subcategories of biology. Each of them helps build the entire field and reflects why the science is so important to modern society.
You have biochemistry, which is the study of the material substances that make up living things, as well as botany, which focuses on plants. Then there is cellular biology and ecology. Cellular, as you may guess, is about the basic cellular units that make up living things, and ecology is focused on how organisms interact with their environment.
Evolutionary biology studies the origin of organisms, as well as how they diversified over time. Genetics focuses on heredity, molecular biology is about molecules, and physiology looks at the parts and functions of an organism. The final field is zoology, which studies all things related to animals.
While those fields are laid out clearly above, they often overlap and intersect with each other. Someone cannot fully grasp zoology without understanding evolution and physiology, for instance, and there is no way to dive into cellular biology without also learning biochemistry and molecular biology. Those connections are key to knowing how to define biology.
Biology in Today’s Modern World
Biology is incredibly important, not just for study, but also because of how it affects the different parts of our society. Though you may not realize it, biology influences many parts of daily life.
Researchers use it within both the livestock and agricultural industry to create better and more delicious food. In fact, cheese, yogurt and bread would not exist without it. Better pollen formed through an understanding of ecosystems can also help create better crops or different types of produce.
Though it may sound odd, biology also has applications in clothing, fuels, textiles, beauty, personal care, transportation, beauty, fuel, medicine and even building construction.
Cotton and polyester are both necessary for clothing, and they each come from the natural world. Plants are also used as the base for fabric dyes and nylon.
Tires are made from rubber from the rubber tree, and wood is in countless items. Even something you may not think of being directly tied to biology is typically connected to it in one way or another. For example, houses are made of wood. That means biology, through wood production and stronger materials, is needed to create them.
Science for Life and the Natural World
Biology is one of the most useful sciences on Earth. Though it may seem advances, it is also quite easy to understand. Though there are many different parts of the field, they all work together in a very logical way. It is not always simple to break down a science, but, as shown above, biology is easy to grasp once you understand all the pieces.